Category Archives: Parade Stadium


Construction at Parade continues. Park Watch has learned through the Data Practices Act that Superintendent Gurban is planning additional construction at Parade. Park Board staff has submitted plans for review by the city for a new road which will bisect the Parade site just east of the new Parade Stadium. Because the road is on Park Board property, it is a Park Board project using Park Board funds, but Park Watch has seen no financial estimates for this project nor has it learned how it will be funded. Park Watch has heard that construction could begin as early as this summer.

Superintendent Gurban is again violating Park Board ordinances and process by circumventing the Park Board’s own legal framework. With this project, he is circumventing the Park Board’s committee process, the Park Board’s approval process and citizen input/participation.

There are many questions to be answered before this project moves ahead. And with the Park Board’s Comprehensive Plan still forthcoming, there should be a Park Board moratorium on this project, which is just one component of Superintendent Gurban’s grandiose plans for a $50,000,000 sports complex at Parade. Because the Board has not reviewed or approved the concept of a $50,000,000 sports complex at Parade, there should also be a moratorium on the distribution of the brochure promoting the unapproved sports complex.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Southwest Journal: Parks notebook

From the Southwest Journal Parks Notebook by Mary O’Regan and Dylan Thomas


Park Board superintendent reelected

On May 16, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to reelect Superintendent Jon Gurban, extending his term another three years. Park Board Commissioner Annie Young, who did not support Gurban’s initial election in 2003, proposed that his new contract include an annual performance review and work plan.

The board compromised and will include her suggestions in the negotiations with Park Board President Jon Olson, but not in Gurban’s contract. Young also asked that the board review his contract before its presentation to the superintendent, but her request was denied.

Gurban’s reelection took place in the wake of a civil liberties controversy. Arlene Fried, co-founder of the citizen group Minneapolis Park Watch, was cut off during the open forum section of the May 2 board meeting. She attempted to recite a list of 10 “poor management practices” under Gurban’s authority, but midway through the fifth item, Olson interrupted and moved on to the next issue without allowing Fried to continue. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Park Board – on Fried’s behalf – accusing them of violating her First Amendment rights.

During the open session at the May 16 meeting, Fried was allowed to speak, but by then the board had already reelected Gurban.

“Allowing me to speak after you have voted is an insult to me and to freedom of speech,” she told the board. “What you are conveying to your constituents is that what we have to say is not important.”

In this instance, Olson interrupted Fried’s speech multiple times and attempted to end early her allotted three minutes.

Don’t rain on my Parade Stadium

The city of Minneapolis has issued a stop-work order on the reconstruction of Parade Stadium, claiming that a conditional-use permit is needed for the project to continue. The Park and Recreation Board, which is overseeing the plan, insists that it has applied for all of the necessary permits and that the stop-work order was a mistake.

“I think that was a very regrettable piece of action by some uninformed bureaucrats,” said Superintendent Jon Gurban. “We have done much more work elsewhere in this city and never had a conditional-use permit.”

Construction on the stadium is continuing despite the city’s order. The $1.2 million project – which sits just west of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – includes stadium seating, grandstands, and a $48,000 electronic scoreboard. The Park Board and Public Works are in the process of designing a new road that will stretch from Dunwoody Boulevard to Kenwood Parkway, cutting through the stadium parking lot.

Though the board had received a proposal from the Minnesota Thunder about using the stadium for soccer games, Gurban insists that the site will exist primarily for youth sporting events.


Also included in the Parks notebook were reports on the transfomation of Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake, and the buckthorn removal and follow-up work at Brownie Lake. To see these reports and the entire original notebook, visit the Southwest Journal website.

Parade Update

On April 26, the City issued a Stop Work Order for the Parade construction, but the Park Board’s unpermitted construction at Parade continues in violation of the Minneapolis Zoning Code. City inspectors are monitoring the situation.

See attached Stop Work Order from the city.

Pulse of the Twin Cities Commentary: The New Parade Stadium

In a Pulse of the Twin Cities commentary by Katie Simon-Dastych and Arlene Fried, subtitle “On Jan. 3, 2007, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) approved $1.24 million for an artificial turf field to be constructed on the site of the former Parade Stadium,” the authors wrote:

Parade Stadium was torn down in 1990 because it had become economically unfeasible-operating costs were outstripping revenues.

Also approved on Jan. 3 were a $48,000 scoreboard, a $17,500 sound system, $51,000 worth of fencing, $62,000 for stadium chair seating and $390,000 for grandstands, ramp systems, concrete pads and press boxplatform, all of which are components for a stadium.

According to the agenda and the minutes from the Jan. 3 meeting, this $1,808,500 project is being funded with 2005 and 2006 CLIC allocations of $1,709,000 and a $200,000 grant from the NFL for a total of $1,909,000. Another $50,000 from Cirque Du Soleil proceeds has been added.

According to Park Board procedures, a redevelopment project like this one is supposed to go through the Park Board’s Planning Committee; and, according to Park Board laws, it is also supposed to be reviewed by a Citizens Advisory Committee, which is supposed to be followed by a Public Hearing. All of these procedures are designed to allow public participation. And the public participation is intended to occur well in advance of the bulldozers.

But not in this instance. In early April, construction began. The Park Board administration, under Superintendent Jon Gurban’s leadership, has circumvented the Park Board’s Planning Committee process, the Park Board’s Citizens Advisory Committee process and the Park Board’s Public Hearing process. It also has attempted to circumvent the City and the City’s planning process by commencing construction without applying for a “conditional use” permit.

On April 25, the City issued a stop-work order. Challenging the City’s authority, the Park Board ordered Rehbein Excavating to continue construction. Subsequently, a second stop-work order was issued, but as of May 10, construction was continuing.

Read the entire commentary at the Pulse of the Twin Cities website.

Work Begins at Parade Stadium

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Childers.

Construction for the new Parade Stadium started on Monday, April 2. There’s a lot of heavy equipment at work moving mountains of dirt. I’ve been told that the lighting and installation of the artificial turf is scheduled to be completed by July 4. I assume that there is some urgency because, according to information Park Watch acquired through the Data Practices Act, June 30 is the date that the $200,000 NFL field grant expires. As of this posting, MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurban still has not convened a Citizens Advisory Committee as mandated by Park Board Ordinance 99-101. And now I am wondering if the Park Board has a building permit. When I was at the site, I did not see any permit postings. Did the Park Board forget to apply for a building permit?


At the March 21 Park Board meeting, General Manager Mike Schmidt announced that construction at Parade would begin in March and be completed by July. But as of this posting, MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurban has not convened a Citizens Advisory Committee as mandated by Park Board Ordinance 99-101.

The following is a condensed version of a letter dated March 8 that I sent to Superintendent Gurban regarding Parade Stadium. I have received no answer.

Dear Superintendent Gurban:

This letter is intended for Petitions and Communications:

I am writing you regarding compliance with Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ordinances. I-and many others-would like to know when you are going to convene a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the new $1,808,500 Parade Stadium project, which was approved without discussion at the Park Board meeting on January 3, 2007. This new Parade Stadium replaces the one that was demolished back in 1990 when it became economically unfeasible; operating costs were outstripping revenues.

What originally began as only a $1,240,000 artificial turf project was transformed into a $1,808,500 stadium project when-at the January 3, 2007, Park Board meeting-the Park Board authorized the spending of $568,500 for “amenities.” These amenities included a $48,000 electronic scoreboard, a $17,500 sound system, grandstands with stadium chair seating, ramp systems and a press box for the media. This project was made possible with funds provided by the NFL and CLIC.

Construction for the new Parade Stadium is scheduled to begin this spring. Yet there’s a lack of clarity for those of us taxpayers who have been following this project as to precisely WHO is going to use this publicly financed facility and WHERE the revenues to maintain it are going to come from and WHAT it’s going to look like. I believe it is general practice in most organizations to plan first, build later-not build first, plan later.

Where is the hard statistical evidence that a stadium is a Park Board necessity? I have no problem with a multi-purpose artificial turf playing field, which is what we were led to believe was being constructed. But the upgrade to a stadium came as a surprise. If you are building it for the Thunder, another question is why should the Park Board be subsidizing a professional sports organization on Park Board property with Park Board funds? That is not part of our parks’ mission.

As you know, according to Park Board Ordinance 99-101, the Park Board is mandated to convene a Citizens Advisory Committee “when park facility construction or redevelop- ment projects are proposed.”

So far, I’ve not heard mention of a CAC. With the contract let and construction slated for this spring, the time to convene a CAC is now, prior to construction. I am concerned that you may be attempting to expedite construction by avoiding a CAC. Avoiding a CAC would be in violation of Park Board ordinances.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your reply.


Arlene Fried
Co-founder Parkwatch

Parade Stadium Letter to the Editor in the Downtown Journal

Eye on the Park Board

As a co-founder of Park Watch, an advocacy group founded three years ago to monitor the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), I have been attending Park Board meetings on a regular basis.

I am deeply concerned about Superintendent Gurban’s plans for a new Parade Stadium. One of my many concerns with this new $1,808,500 Parade Stadium is that it is moving much too quickly. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring; yet it is not even known who will be using the new stadium.

Before construction of this project begins, there needs to be a clear understanding of exactly who will be using it and what the projected revenues will be. Superintendent Gurban also needs to convene the mandated Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). All of this needs to be done BEFORE construction begins and not after. Superintendent Gurban’s philosophy of build first, plan later is not one that guarantees a successful project.

I believe there are a number of critical questions that need to be asked. Here are three:

1. Why should the taxpayers of Minneapolis be expected to subsidize another professional sports team on Park Board property with Park Board funds?

2. Will Superintendent Gurban be able to direct staff to negotiate and write a lease with the [Minnesota] Thunder [soccer team] that is lucrative for the Park Board? The Park Board’s lease (of which I have a copy) that was negotiated and written with Cirque du Soleil in 2005 ought to have been a lucrative one, but it was not. The cash payment to the Park Board was only $50,000, about one-third or one-fourth of what Cirque probably grossed from parking fees. (Yes, Cirque du Soleil got all the parking revenues.) As a result, the Cirque lease earned the Park Board all of $736 a day for the 68 days that Cirque leased the Parade site. The figure of $736 would be the equivalent of about seven Cirque tickets.

3. And, most important, with 50 percent shared use of DeLaSalle’s new stadium, how great is the need for another Park Board stadium? Superintendent Gurban has not produced any hard statistical evidence that a stadium with $568,500 of amenities is a necessity.

Arlene Fried, Bryn Mawr, co-founder of Park Watch

'Dream' vision for remaking old stadium

The Minneapolis Park Board wants a first-class operation on the site of old Parade Stadium.
By Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune

A new sports mecca is rising on the site of Minneapolis’ old Parade Stadium, starting with a $1.2 million artificial turf face-lift this year, and with plans for an electronic scoreboard, grandstand, press box, 1,500 stadium seats and a stadium sound system to go with it. Star Tribune

Minnesota Thunder might move Downtown

By Dan Haugen, for the Downtown Journal

Parade Stadium on team’s list for possible venues
«A high-tech artificial turf purchased by the Park Board earlier this month keeps the ball rolling forward in talks about possibly relocating the state’s professional soccer team to Downtown.

Minnesota Thunder president Jim Froslid said the team has had conversations with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board about Parade Park, and the board’s recent decision to install $1.2 million of turf there could create an opportunity.

“It still remains an option, I believe,” Froslid said last week. “We’re exploring options, and the bottom line is we’re looking for a better place for not only our team but our fans, too.”

The Thunder currently play home games at St. Paul Central High School. It’s been looking for a permanent home since leaving its stadium in Blaine in 2004, Froslid said.

Parade Park, situated just west of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, was once the home to a 19,000-seat stadium that hosted high school football games, minor league baseball and big name concerts like Simon and Garfunkel.

Park Board Superintendent Jon Gurban fondly recalls as teenager in the1960s hanging out under the Friday night lights at Parade Stadium, where the week’s premier prep football games drew spectators from across the city to watch.

“It was a place where the community could come together,” Gurban said.

The kind of thing a kid went to regardless of who played. “It was all about meeting people. It’s where you started to establish relationships and trust with people.”

Since the old stadium was demolished, fields at the park have been used for youth and adult recreational sports, mostly softball and soccer. When Cirque Du Soleil approached the Park Board a few years ago about staging an event there, Gurban said they reconsidered its uses.

“We were honored that they chose the site, but it also emphasized to us how we were using the site was not to it’s greatest benefit,” Gurban said. “It started us thinking a little more we should maybe raise the bar.”

The Park Board approved plans Jan. 3 to resurrect a smaller version of the old Parade Stadium, which was torn down in the early 1990s due to its increasing disrepair. It approved a contract to install the artificial turf and also OK’d a list of other amenities like scoreboards and bleachers as money becomes available.

“The concept, in its simplest form, is recreating a sense of place for our community,” Gurban said.

High school and recreational sports will be a part of the mix, but the Minnesota Thunder has also been in the Park Board’s mind, Gurban said.

“Soccer is growing in popularity,” he said. “The location of the stadium, on the 394 corridor, I think plays into their ticket holder demographic. We certainly would entertain and have had discussions with them.”

No formal proposal exists, but Froslid said the team will continue to watch the Parade Park site. The artificial turf the Park Board is investing in is a quality approved for play up to the World Cup finals, he said.

“It’s going to be a very soccer friendly venue,” Froslid said. “If it fits the minimum requirements, we’re going to take a look at it.”

The team has also talked with St. Paul, Froslid said. It’s looking for a long-term home that could accommodate about 20 games per summer, in addition to many of its youth soccer camps and about seven women’s soccer home games.

Some of the things it would need include a press box, scoreboard, sound system, locker rooms and seating for a few thousand fans. Another must is parking, which Parade Park has plenty of. In fact, parking was a factor in the Park Board’s decision to pursue a larger use, Gurban said.

After the Guthrie relocated and the Walker Art Center built its own ramp, revenue at the Park Board lot dropped.

Soccer fan and Downtown resident Mark Wheat has mixed thoughts about the Parade Park option.

“To be honest, as a purest, playing soccer on artificial turf still has never won me over,” Wheat said. “I’m not sure if that would be a good thing for the team.”

The location itself, though, makes perfect sense for a number of reasons, said Wheat, who grew up about 100 miles north of London, rooting for the Manchester United. Across the pond, soccer has always been an urban sport, and so a move Downtown would be a step closer to those roots, he said. Plus, it’s an accessible and familiar area for suburban fans.

The games are family friendly events, Wheat said. In addition, there’s a “core fan club that play instruments, bang drums, play trumpets and things like that to give it a festive feel,” he said.

Professional sports or not, realtor Betsy Rubin, 31, who lives just up the road from the park, said a stadium would be a good amenity for the area.

“I think that’s exciting for the neighborhood,” Rubin said. “Anything that supports youth involved in sports is good.”

Filmmaker Jeff Hohman, 59, has lived across the street from the area for over three decades. He said a stadium could be nice or a nuisance, but he has some fond memories of the old stadium. He remembers sitting with his wife and listening to the Simon and Garfunkel concert from their back stoop.

“Parking’s always been an issue,” Hohman said. “We’ve just gotten used to that. It’s something the neighborhood lives with.”»

Original article at the Downtown Journal Online.